Lotus F1 Racing has today confirmed that Italy's Jarno Trulli, Finland's Heikki Kovalainen and Malaysia's Fairuz Fauzy have joined the team to spearhead driving duties for its debut Formula 1 season in 2010.
There has been much speculation surrounding the identity of Lotus F1 Racing's driver signings in recent weeks, but the appointment of Jarno, Heikki and Fairuz was made formal in an official announcement by Malaysian Prime Minister Dato' Sri Najib Tun Razak in Kuala Lumpur this afternoon, at which Jarno, Heikki and Fairuz were also present.
35-year-old Trulli is one of the most experienced, consistent racers in Formula 1 and unquestionably still one of the fastest men over a single lap. He is one of just a select few drivers to have tasted victory in Formula 1, and that at the jewel in the crown of Formula 1 racing, the Monaco Grand Prix. He has also finished in the top ten of the drivers' Championship table on seven occasions.
Heikki's F1 career began in 2006 when he made his debut as a test driver. His appointment to the Lotus F1 Racing team will see the 28 year old Finn starting his fourth season in the Formula 1 World Championship and he brings with him a race winning reputation, confirmed by his first victory in Hungary in 2008, and a wealth of experience that will make a potent combination with fellow race driver Jarno Trulli and Fairuz Fauzy.
27-year-old Fauzy joins the team having previously held a Formula 1 testing role for the Spyker squad back in 2007. Since then he has driven in the F1 feeder series GP2, the World Series by Renault, as well as being named as lead driver for Malaysia's involvement in the A1GP Championship.
It is a reflection of the determination and status of Lotus F1 Racing to return to Formula 1 that they have hired two race winning drivers for the debut season.
Tony Fernandes, Team Principal: "I am thrilled that we have been able to sign Jarno, Heikki and Fairuz to drive for Lotus F1 Racing in our debut season. The appointment of Jarno, Heikki and Fairuz as our race drivers is a testament to the quality of our team, to our ambition and drive, and above all to our long-term vision of success in Formula 1. Jarno and Heiki are winners and have proven track records in Formula 1, and will be a big asset to us as we look to develop the team and the car throughout 2010. Jarno and Heikki are two extremely versatile drivers who have proven themselves more than capable of achieving solid results no matter how tough the conditions. Having Fairuz on board is also great news. He is undoubtedly the best Malaysian senior driver at the moment and it is a pleasure to welcome him into Malaysia's Formula 1 team. We only secured our 2010 entry from the FIA in September and already we have our first car in production and have signed two Formula 1 race winners to drive for us, as well as a home-grown Malaysian driver. Not bad for three months' hard work! There is more to come from us and we head into the holiday period buoyed by what we have accomplished already but inspired to push the boundaries yet further."
Jarno Trulli, Racing driver: "It is a privilege for me to sign for the new Lotus F1 Racing team. I have been impressed by the long-term vision of the team management and technical staff. Tony has set out very ambitious plans and I am ready to help the team achieve these high targets. I am also pleased to be back working alongside Mike Gascoyne, someone with whom I have enjoyed previous success at other teams. I get on very well with him and I respect his working style. Lotus is a truly iconic and inspirational brand and it is great that the name is back in Formula 1. We will be hoping to draw inspiration from the heritage of Lotus for our team."
"I am also delighted to be racing alongside Heikki, someone who I have enjoyed racing against since 2007, and someone else, like me, who brings valuable experience from his time with two of Formula 1's most established teams. I believe that together, we are among the most competitive pairings on the grid, and we will be determined to bring success to Lotus F1 Racing to repay the faith that Tony and the team have shown in us."
"The fact that the team is Malaysian gives us all an extra responsibility because we will be carrying the hopes of a nation on our shoulders, but we will give the absolute maximum to reward their loyalty and trust. I am here to win; I will fight for the team and for Malaysia. Every proud Malaysian should be behind the team."
Heikki Kovalainen, Racing driver: "It's fantastic to be joining Lotus F1 Racing and I am excited about the challenges that lie ahead. I recently visited our factory in Norfolk, UK, and was so impressed by seeing how far the team has come in such a short time since it was launched in September, and by how determined everyone is to meet Tony's ambitious targets. I knew immediately it would be a fantastic opportunity to help them achieve their goals."
"I believe that appointing two drivers with the experience Jarno and I have shows how determined the team is to go racing in a truly competitive way, and our pairing sends out a very strong message to our competitors."
"I'm also excited to be part of a team that is not only bringing back the Lotus name, one of the most iconic teams in any form of global motorsport, but also doing so with the support and backing of Malaysia, a country I fell in love with when I first raced there in 2007. I can't wait to begin working with Tony, Mike and the team they are putting together, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the welcome we will be given by Formula 1 fans around the world as we bring Lotus F1 Racing to the grid."
Fairuz Fauzy, Test driver: "There is no greater honour than having the chance to drive for your country. I was given the opportunity to do that for A1 Team Malaysia in A1GP for a couple of years, but to have the chance to join Malaysia's first fully fledged Formula 1 team is very special for me and the highlight of my career so far. I look forward to working closely with Jarno and Heikki on developing the car and the team in our first season together in Formula 1. I am sure we can do Malaysia as a nation proud, as well as upholding the tradition of such a legendary F1 name such as Lotus. Furthermore I look forward to developing as a driver in Formula 1 with the team in the future."